Gasoline Prices Down Nationally, Locally

Gasoline Prices Down Nationally, Locally

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gasoline have gone down both nationally and in Utah during the past month.

The national average for unleaded regular was $2.59 per gallon on Wednesday, compared to $2.80 a month ago, AAA said.

The average for the Salt Lake City-Ogden area was $2.63. Over the past month, average prices in the area have decreased by 18 cents. Prices across the state have decreased by an average of 15 cents.

"The prices are brutal right now, but not as brutal as what they were," said Rolayne Fairclough, spokeswoman for AAA of Utah.

Post-Katrina highs in Utah were about $2.87, AAA said. The national high was about $3.05.

Utah gas prices are higher than several cities that receive their fuel from Katrina-damaged Gulf Coast refineries. Houston, which was impacted by Hurricane Rita, had average gas prices that were only 1 cent higher than the Salt Lake average.

"It depends on refinery capacity and utilization," said Lee Peacock, president of the Utah Petroleum Association. "All our refineries are up and running, but again, it's local market conditions that determine the price. The economy in the Rocky Mountains, especially in Utah, is booming. We're using a lot of petroleum products, and it all adds up to that demand component that affects prices."

Fairclough said the demand for gas has been on the decline since summer of 2004.

She said other factors in the price include the hurricane-damaged refineries becoming operational again.

In addition, there are the regular seasonal changes in gas prices. Traditionally, as the weather cools, people drive less.

Gas companies also switch to a cheaper method of processing fuel for the winter months.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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